Created by North American Aviation, this historic film shows the flight test program for the XB-70 Valkyrie at Edwards AFB in California including the first flight at supersonic speeds, and the various tests made prior to undertaking a flight at Mach 3.0 -- three times the speed of sound or 2200 miles an hour.
The North American Aviation XB-70 Valkyrie was the prototype of the B-70 nuclear-armed, deep-penetration strategic bomber for the U.S. Air Force's Strategic Air Command. North American Aviation designed the Valkyrie bomber as a large, six-engine aircraft capable of reaching Mach 3+ while flying at 70,000 feet (21,000 m); these speed and altitude capabilities would allow the evasion of interceptor aircraft, the only effective weapon against bomber aircraft at the time.
Due to improved high-altitude surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), the U.S. Air Force's doctrine changed to low-level penetration bombing, the large development costs of the B-70 program, and the introduction of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to the U.S. nuclear arsenal, led to the cancellation of the B-70 program in 1961. As such, two prototype aircraft were built, and designated XB-70A; these aircraft were used for supersonic test-flights during 1964–69. In 1966, one prototype crashed after colliding in midair with a smaller jet aircraft; the remaining Valkyrie bomber is in the National Museum of the United States Air Force, in Ohio.
The XB-70's maiden flight was on 21 September 1964. In the first flight test, between Palmdale and Edwards AFB, shortly after take-off one engine had to be shut down, and an undercarriage malfunction warning meant that the flight was flown with the undercarriage down as precaution, limiting speed to 390 mph - about half that planned. As seen in the film on landing, the rear wheels of the port side main gear locked, the tires ruptured, and a fire started.
The Valkyrie first became supersonic (Mach 1.1) on the third test flight on 12 October 1964, and flew above Mach 1 for 40 minutes during the following flight on 24 October. The wing tips were also lowered partially in this flight. XB-70 No. 1 surpassed Mach 3 on 14 October 1965 by reaching Mach 3.02 at 70,000 ft (21,300 m). The first aircraft was found to suffer from weaknesses in the honeycomb panels, primarily due to inexperience with fabrication and quality control of this new material. On two occasions, honeycomb panels failed and were torn off during supersonic flight, necessitating a Mach 2.5 limit being placed on the aircraft.
The deficiencies discovered on AV-1 were almost completely solved on the second XB-70, which first flew on 17 July 1965. On 3 January 1966, XB-70 No. 2 attained a speed of Mach 3.05 while flying at 72,000 ft (21,900 m). AV-2 reached a top speed of Mach 3.08 and maintained it for 20 minutes on 12 April 1966. On 19 May 1966, AV-2 reached Mach 3.06 and flew at Mach 3 for 32 minutes, covering 2,400 mi (3,840 km) in 91 minutes of total flight.
A joint NASA/USAF research program was conducted from 3 November 1966 to 31 January 1967 for measuring the intensity and signature of sonic booms for the National Sonic Boom Program (NSBP). Testing was planned to cover a range of sonic boom overpressures on the ground similar to but higher than the proposed American SST. In 1966, AV-2 was selected for the program and was outfitted with test sensors. It flew the first sonic boom test on 6 June 1966, attaining a speed of Mach 3.05 at 72,000 ft (21,900 m). Two days later, AV-2 crashed following a mid-air collision with an F-104 while flying in a multi-aircraft formation. Sonic boom and later testing continued with XB-70A #1.
The second flight research program (NASA NAS4-1174) investigated "control of structural dynamics" from 25 April 1967 through the XB-70's last flight in 1969. At high altitude and high speed, the XB-70A experienced unwanted changes in altitude. NASA testing from June 1968 included two small vanes on the nose of AV-1 for measuring the response of the aircraft's stability augmentation system. AV-1 flew a total of 83 flights.
The XB-70's last supersonic flight took place on 17 December 1968. On 4 February 1969, AV-1 took its final flight to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for museum display (now the National Museum of the United States Air Force).
This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2K. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com